On Wednesday, July 21, the Kokomo Park Band will present “Musician, Teacher and Friend-A Tribute to Larry Kirkman” in Highland Park.
The free program, conducted by Artistic Director Jay Gephart, will begin at 7:30 p.m. and will feature many of Kirkman’s former students who are now among the ranks of highly successful professional players and university music professors.
Soloists include saxophonists Tom Gullian and Om Srivastava. Also performing is a saxophone quintet and the Retired Rum-Runners Traditional Jazz Band. All former students of Larry are invited to a gathering beginning at 6 p.m. at Rodgers Pavilion located just south of the Highland Park Stage.
Kirkman died on March 9, 2021. He was a musical icon in the greater Kokomo area and played in the KPB for 65 years serving as the band’s manager for 34 of those years. During his time as manager, the weekly audience grew from fewer than 100 to often well over 1,000. Kirkman led dance combos and jazz bands locally beginning in his years at Kokomo High School. He also was accomplished as a classical musician excelling on both saxophone and trumpet.
Kirkman served as Assistant Band Director at Tri-Central Jr/Sr High School and was mentor to hundreds (perhaps thousands) of private students during the more than six decades of his teaching career. Considered an exceptional performer, Kirkman's true legacy was the success of the countless students he taught and nurtured.
Soloist Tom Gullian studied saxophone with Kirkman from age 10 all the way through high school, later adding clarinet and jazz improvisation lessons. He will perform “Harlem Nocturne'' arranged specifically for Kirkman by former KPB conductor, the late Steve Rhodes. Gullian’s credentials include playing with jazz trombone legend J.J. Johnson’s Quintet, David N. Baker’s 21st Century Bebop Band, Al Cobine, Frank Sinatra Jr, Lou Rawls, Benny Carter, Julie Andrews, Andy Williams, and many others across the USA and parts of Europe.
“I am grateful to Larry every time I take the horn out of the case. He taught me pretty much everything you need to know to play the saxophone and being a musician,”.said Gullian.
Dr. Om Srivastava is currently the adjunct professor of saxophone at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music and Xavier University. He is also an active performer and recording artist, having performed tours across the United States and abroad including venues such as the Lincoln Center and the New York City Public Theatre. He studied saxophone with Kirkman from the age of 14 through high school.
“Larry was my first hero and genuine inspiration. He was the transformative figure in my life growing up in Kokomo. I am so grateful to have known him and been impacted by him, and I will cherish our time together forever,” said Srivastava.
He will perform “Meditative” from Paul Creston’s “Concerto for Alto Saxophone.”
A saxophone quintet, “Five to Go” by Jack Bullock,” will feature Gullian and Srivastavaalong with Dr. Stacy Maugans, professor of saxophone at Valparaiso University; Greg Miller who holds a Doctorate of Musical Arts from North Texas State and currently teaches music and band at Maple Crest Middle School; and Neil Broeker, freelance musician who has performed and toured with numerous celebrities including Andy Williams. All are from the Kokomo area and are former students of Kirkman.
A new composition will be premiered in honor of Kirkman.“River - Kokomo” was written by musician, composer and longtime Kirkman friend Rick Mizell who recently retired as senior music producer for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. It is based on the American folk tune, “Shenandoah.” In his notes, Mizell states, “A teacher is like a river in that the knowledge passed on is always flowing to somewhere/someone else. This piece is in memory of my good friend and fellow musician, Larry Kirkman. Let the music live on!”
Popcorn and drinks will be provided by the Serving in Love Team from Morning Star Church and for kids, coloring materials will be available. In case of rain, the concert will move to the Northwestern School Auditorium. The event is sponsored by Stout and Son Funeral Homes.
All other selections reflect Kirkman’s personality and musical preferences. They include “Second Suite” by Gustav Holst; “Orange Bowl March” by Fillmore; “The Red Covered Bridge” by Robert Sheldon, “ Music Man,” “Bombasto,” and “When the Saints Go Marching In” with the Retired Rum-Runners Jazz Band.